Ironman UK: REAP Preview
This Sunday, Bolton will play host to the first Ironman event in the UK since the world imploded last year, and we can’t wait.
Our very own Elliot Smales will be vying for glory up in the North-West this weekend, but it’s not just the hefty prize purse up for grabs. He’ll have his eyes firmly affixed to a plane ticket headed for the Big Island in October.
Elliot raced his first full-distance event in Barcelona at the back end of the 2019 season as an add-on to his normal season and although post-race he swore he’d never do one again, here we are! Being the fastest British Ironman debutant ever and the fifth fastest British Ironman ever, may have given Elliot a glimpse into just how good we know he can be over the full-distance.
However, there are several other athletes on the start line prepared to do their best to get their hands on a ‘golden ticket’ for Kona in his place. Since there hasn’t been a Pro race at Bolton since 2018, Joe Skipper is still the reigning champion and will be a big name to watch come Sunday’s race. This said, Skipper has already booked his place on the Kona start line so irrespective of where he finishes there will still be two Kona slots up for grabs between the remaining male Pros. The likes of Tom Davis, Sam Laidlow, Adam Bowden, Leon Chevalier and Ironman world-record holder Tim Don will all be towing the line on the grippy Bolton course too.
Elliot has had an upgrade from his 2019 Ironman debut. This year he will be aboard a new REAP Vulcan painted in a minimal raw carbon, black and orange livery to eke out those marginal weight gains. On a flatter course this may not matter but on a course with nearly 7,750ft of climbing, we’ll take all the gains we can get! Elliot’s Vulcan will be rolling on his HED Jet 6/Disc wheelset come race day with his ROTOR INspider powermeter for company in what is set to be, dire weather.
Despite the Pros usually taking the spotlight come raceday, over the last few weeks the office has been abuzz with chatter about how our Managing Director will fair on the Bolton course. It’s a big day on Sunday for Martin, not least it being his wedding anniversary, but the ‘main event’ will be his second Ironman full-distance event with his eyes on the 55-59 age group Kona slot.
Despite this being only his second full-Ironman event, don’t take that for inexperience. Martin started triathlon back in the late-80s, ultimately attaining his elite license and racing at the 1995 Long Course World Championships in Nice, France. He is significantly older now (sorry boss!) than he was back then but with a new-found commitment to the ‘Kona Dream’ over the last couple of years and an Age-Group win at the Outlaw X half-distance event in September last year, could this be the year? With the swim and bike as his strengths, he’ll need to manage himself onto the marathon so he doesn’t park early. We’re confident he’s in the best position to get to Kona, with the best bike on the market, and a very very understanding wife.
Elliot will be starting at 6:00AM on Sunday along with the rest of the Male Pro field, and Martin will be starting just behind them at around 6:05AM. We’ll be covering the race on our Instagram page (@reapbikes) so make sure to tune in.